The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Sunday, January 14, 2007


I've been putting off posting this for a while. I keep bringing it up then making a few changes and saving as draft. But now feels right - especially in light of the latest blogged justification of rape that Asher has highlighted (hattip: Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty).

A while back I was given Don McGlashan's latest album Warm Hand as a gift. Unfortunately I find it hard to listen to these days. Now it is intertwined, irredeemably I suspect, with the rage and sadness I feel over an incident that happened in the early 1990s, but which I only found out about last year. Every time I listen to London I get angry. Every time I listen to I Will Not Let You Down I feel righteous but powerless, whenever I get to Miracle Sun I cry.

This is what rape does to this woman, a woman who has not been raped, a woman who has not been abused by friends of her rapist, both physically and by having her reputation dragged unjustly through the dirt for years.

Of all the rape and abuse stories I have heard, from friends, family, people I don't even know particularly well, only one was the victim of a stranger. It was a stereotypical rape - walking from the bus stop home, through a park. The baby was adopted out.

That's one. From many. It frightens me how many women I know who have been raped or sexually abused. When you add sexual harassment to that equation there may be very few women indeed who have never suffered because of their gender. And that violence has come from men known to the woman (almost exclusively in the cases I know of). Not strangers at all, but ordinary men, living in our lives.

What angers me even more, what really causes the rage to swell inside me, is that this ordinary violence is so frequently minimised, when its frequency is the very thing that makes it even more serious and worthy of addressing.

I heard on the radio in mid-December (when I first started writing this post) someone talking about the "primal scream" that Brash's first Orewa speech untapped - the crying out of Pakeha who had felt Maori had too many advantages and were glad to hear someone else voice their anger and legitimise it. While it's not a cause I identify with (or agree with, in fact I believe it is based on lies we conveniently tell ourselves about our past and present), I wonder when the primal scream comes for women.

When do we tip the polls in such a manner that we change the paradigm, that we make it ok to be honest about the abuse, when, and how, do we make it ok to voice the truth. How do we stop it from happening again, and again and again? If a fallacious speech by a dishonest politician can galvanise the racists and bring them out of the shadows, why can't women create such a surge with a grievance so true and so real?

This post isn't about answers. I guess it's my own little primal scream, an attempt to voice the deep concern I feel - to see if there are others out in the ether who feel as I do.

And, if there are any others, if they have any ideas for the transformation I seek. Silent internet screams are not enough.

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